The scope of the  ISO Knowledge Management Standard, according to the documentation is to “set requirements and provide guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining, reviewing and improving an effective management system for knowledge management in organizations. All the requirements of this document are applicable to any organization, regardless of its type or size, or the products and services it provides”.

As with any standard, I believe that practitioners and organizations implementing KM should use this as a framework. Alignment to a recognized standard will contribute to improving the organization’s implementation and use of Knowledge Management.

The KM Standard has procedures in place in which to continuously evolve the standard. The procedures intended for the evolution of the standard is described in the ISO/IEC Directives. The following are my brief comments concerning the purpose, importance of KM and KM Guiding Principles sections of the standard.

0.1 Purpose

In the purpose section the  ISO Knowledge Management Standard states “The purpose of this ISO management system standard for knowledge management is to support organizations to develop a management system that effectively promotes and enables value-creation through knowledge”.

This KM standard focuses on the capture, management and delivery of knowledge through a software application. Each organization will craft a knowledge management approach, with respect to its own business and operational environment, reflecting their specific needs and desired outcomes.

The intent of this document is to set sound knowledge management principles and requirements

  • a) as guidance for organizations that aim to be competent in optimizing the value of organizational knowledge;
  • b) as a basis for auditing, certifying, evaluating and recognizing such competent organizations by internal and external recognized auditing bodies.

I have a couple of observations:

  • adhering to the ISO KM Standard would lead to achieving KM Maturity
  • an organization’s KM assessment can be accomplished by using the KM Standard,aligning the principles of the KM Standard to a (because there are many of them) KM Maturity Model

0.2 The importance of knowledge management

In this section the standard identifies the following important aspects of KM:

  • The aim of KM is to produce valuable results. Valuable results are derived from applied knowledge.
  • Knowledge work is increasingly important and is a core asset for the organization. KM allows effective decisions to be made,supports the efficiency of processes and contributes to their enhancement, creates resilience and adaptability, creates competitive advantage and may even become a product in its own right.
  • An increased access to knowledge will create opportunities for the professional development of people in the organization through learning, practices and exchanges.
  • Knowledge must be deliberately created, consolidated, applied, and reused faster than the rate of change.
  • Geographically dispersed and decentralized organizations, conducting the same processes and delivering the same services in multiple locations, can gain tremendous advantage through sharing practices, expertise and learning across organizational boundaries.
  • Workforce attrition and turnover has implications for knowledge management. In many organizations, critical knowledge is often siloed and/or retained by experts, at the risk of being lost when the organization changes or these experts leave. — (In my latest book “Knowledge Management in Practice”) I detail how to strategically use knowledge capture techniques (chapter 6: KM in Human Resource and Talent Management) to capture employees knowledge throughout the life of the employee
  • Effective knowledge management supports collaboration between different organizations to achieve shared objectives.
  • Knowledge is an intangible organizational asset that needs to be managed like any other asset. It needs to be developed, consolidated, retained, shared, adapted and applied so that workers can make effective decisions and take aligned actions, solving problems based on theexperience of the past and new insights into the future. —- tacit knowledge needs to be made explicit, captured and used/reused; this is accomplished by deploying Knowledge Management applications
  • Knowledge management is a holistic approach toimproving learning and effectiveness through optimization of the use ofknowledge, in order to create value for the organization.
  • Knowledge management supports existing processand development strategies. As such, it needs to be integrated with otherorganizational functions.

0.3 Guiding principles

The following are a synopsis of the guiding principles set forth by the KM Standard:

  • The determinable value of knowledge is in its impact on organizational purpose, vision, objectives, policies, processes and performance. Knowledge management is a means of unlocking the potential value of knowledge.
  • Focus: knowledge management serves the organizational objectives, strategies and needs.
  • Adaptive: there is no one knowledge management solution that fits all organizations within all contexts. Organizations may develop their own approach to the scope of knowledge and knowledge management and how to implement these efforts, based on the needs and context. (see my comment stated in the purpose section of this posting)
  • For shared understanding, knowledge management should include interactions between people, using content, processes and technologies where appropriate.
  • Environment: knowledge is not managed directly; knowledge management focuses on managing the working environment, thus nurturing the knowledge lifecycle.
  • Culture: culture is critical to the effectiveness of knowledge management.
  • Iterative: knowledge management should be phased, incorporating learning and feedback cycles.

Select this link to access how to purchase a copy of the ISO Knowledge Management Standard

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